Business / Q and A with CEO

Former serviceman sets sights on China business

By CAI XIAO (China Daily) Updated: 2015-07-17 08:15

What has impressed you most during your time at J&J?

One of the first things I did when I became the J&J chief executive was to start an internal blog for employees.

What I found is that by communicating with them once a week, or once every 10 days, not only with a story of what I am doing but what I am thinking, really helped build a community feeling among our employees.

Last week, while I was dining at a restaurant in New Jersey, (the United States), I had an interesting interaction with one of our employees.

It was an interaction worth recollecting as during our meeting she said: "Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us through the blog because it makes our company feel so much smaller. I now feel that we are all connected and know exactly what is going on".

To most people this may seem something simple or mundane, but for us it is something that is central to our core values-to build a community and a family within our company.

What has been the biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?

There are several challenges that we encounter in an organization like J&J. But the greatest challenges that we face is that there are still lots of unmet medical needs and so many opportunities to push innovation.

The real challenge is to identify the right opportunities as even big firms cannot be present everywhere.

Some of the most challenging trade-offs that we face on a daily basis are about making the right decisions about where to invest, where we can make the biggest impact in lives, and where we have a probability of success are.

What is your business strategy for this year and over the next five years in China?

China is an integral part of our business mix as it has played a key role in several of our triumphs.

We are fortunate to have been here for over three decades and look forward to being here for the next 30 years and even more.

We now have $3 billion business in China (in 2014) and have been growing at a very healthy rate. We will strive to reach even more patients and consumers in the years to come.

More importantly, and one about which I am particularly keen on, is that we will continue to increase our R&D investments in China.

You have mentioned about increasing R&D spending in China. What prompted this decision?

At J&J, we see innovation as the key driver of economic growth globally and especially in China. We believe that China has the opportunity to lead the world to a healthier future, with its pioneering efforts in innovation.

Not only are we investing in internal innovation through a number of established R&D facilities in China, but also supporting external innovation. We want to build an innovation ecosystem in China that can provide connectivity for all of the different ingredients needed for coming up with the applicable solutions to improve healthcare.

The pharmaceutical industry in China is going through a turbulent time amid the government's ongoing efforts to check corruption. Does it influence your company?

We believe that a strong and ethical business environment will improve J&J's ability to access more markets, ensure fair competition, and ultimately, improve healthcare in China.

To ensure that we stick to our path, we have embedded integrity, transparency, and accountability in all our businesses. We adhere to the local laws, the Voluntary Code of Business Ethics in the Biopharmaceutical Sector, and to all international laws that are relevant to our businesses.

As one of the first global healthcare companies to establish a presence in China 30 years ago, J&J has been present at every step in the development of China's healthcare sector.

Going forward, it will be important for us to continue to be an integral partner for better healthcare in China.

Maintaining a healthy and green lifestyle is becoming an important attribute for CEOs. How about you?

I grew up in a small town in the middle of the United States. I was one of six kids and my parents taught all of us the necessity of not being wasteful, to reuse when we could, and to always respect the natural world around us.

My daily fitness regimen is a great way for me to focus, reflect on major issues and decisions, and to re-energize for the long and demanding days that are part of the role and my life.

I also spent a lot of time outdoors hiking, camping, canoeing, and fishing. So for me, and for my company, we believe that sustainability programs need to be based on these personal values.

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